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Gillingham 3 MK Dons 2: Reaction from Gills manager Steve Evans following successful early switch

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Gillingham manager Steve Evans wasted no time in switching to Plan B on Tuesday night and it paid off.

The Gills found themselves a goal down with four minutes gone against MK Dons after barely touching the ball. Their midweek opponents remained in charge until Evans got the chance to change things around after 10 minutes.

With Ryan Jackson down injured, Evans switched formation and urged his team to up the tempo. Once they got into the faces of MK Dons the dynamics of the game changed completely. The Gills eventually won the game 3-2.

“Jacko was just feeling his shoulder a little bit so he sat down,” said Evans. “We could have reorganised it quickly anyway, within 30 seconds.

“Myself and Paul (Raynor, his assistant) knew we had to change shape after five minutes and that we hadn’t got it right. We worked on two options on the training ground on Monday and we said to the boys pre-game we may have to change it at some point. We were thinking later in the game, not after seven or eight minutes!

“We were like a tortoise in a shell, we didn’t move, we sat there but it was amazing, the minute we gave them an expression of freedom to play, Dempsey rose from the ashes, the likes of Olly Lee and Jordan Graham responded and Vadaine became like he did against Portsmouth, he was unplayable.”

Assistant manager Paul Raynor organising his team from the touchline Picture: Keith Gillard
Assistant manager Paul Raynor organising his team from the touchline Picture: Keith Gillard

MK Dons had knocked the ball around at will during the opening moments, a 50-pass move leading to the opener. They weren’t so confident on the ball once the Gills got after them,

Evans said: “In fairness to them we knew how they would play, their goalkeeper would have the most possession, more than any outfield player for sure, that is how they play.

“We didn’t put any of the plans we had in place into action and we got a break when Ryan Jackson went down. We got the opportunity to change the way we play and change the strategy and we worked on that on the Monday. We changed it around and from there on in we were by far the better side.”

Jordan Graham levelled the score from the penalty spot and Vadaine Oliver capitalised on a poor defensive header to make it 2-1.

Gillingham then looked to have blown it. Graham missed a good chance and MK equalised before the break.

Kyle Dempsey 'rose from the ashes' for the Gills on Tuesday said the manager Picture: Keith Gillard
Kyle Dempsey 'rose from the ashes' for the Gills on Tuesday said the manager Picture: Keith Gillard

Evans said: “Vadaine put the young centre back under pressure and he has a howler and we score (to go 2-1 up). We missed a big big chance to go 3-1 up and we would expect Jordan Graham to score but he was on his weaker foot and he was slipping as well.

“It was a travesty when you see they get a corner, which was not a corner, it was a clear throw to Gillingham and we conceded from that same corner and that is hard to take. I said to the players at half time, the one thing that is not going to change is the way MK play.

“Second half you always expect a reaction, they got a reaction in terms of changing the shape and personnel, but if I am being honest with 20 minutes to go they ran out of ideas. Their idea became ‘how many time can we pass it back to the goalkeeper and pass it to the centre back and back to the goalkeeper.’ I would certainly have difficulty watching that most weeks.

“We had to retain our shape and our discipline and when we got opportunities we had to act. I think we did that.

“We got the goal from a long throw off Jacko, a bit of a hashed clearance and Connor (Ogilvie) does brilliant, it was a fantastic strike. No keeper saves it. From then on in I think apart from 10 seconds before the end when Jack Bonham (the Gills keeper) puts one over the bar, we very comfortably win.

“We should have won at Wimbledon (last Tuesday), that was a travesty. The first half wasn’t good, second it was one way traffic and we paid a price (losing to an 89th minute goal).”

Gills drew 1-1 at the weekend against Portsmouth.

“We were down and disappointed driving home on Saturday,” Evans said, having watched his side dominate the second half at Fratton Park without finding a winner.

“We told them what to expect (against MK Dons), a totally different type of game, they stood up to it and worked really hard and got a win we deserved.”

Match Report: Gillingham 3 MK Dons 2

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